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A Tour Guide In Tokyo: Pros & Cons To Hiring One


by GoWithGuide travel specialist:Akane N.

Last updated : Jun 05, 20249 min read

Travel Tips

Check out our UPDATED Hiring A Guide In Tokyo: Pros & Cons article with fresh insights and new information!


What do you think about hiring a local tour guide in Tokyo? There are probably many aspects you need to consider when deciding to hire a guide for your trip. What are the pros and cons?  What do you want to do during your trip?


You should also consider who your traveling companions are. It’s definitely a decision you should think about before creating an itinerary for your trip. I’ve listed some pros and cons so that maybe they will help you make up your mind.



Pros and Cons Of Hiring A Tour Guide In Tokyo:




1. You don’t have to brainstorm an itinerary

When taking a trip for sightseeing purposes, you need to think up some kind of itinerary, right? Or else you’ll arrive in the country and say, what am I supposed to do now? And if it’s your first time in any country, in most cases you’ll want to see the most famous sightseeing spots.


Even with a guide book to help you, it takes a bit of research to decide on the best spots to visit and find the ones that are nearest each other so that you don’t have to travel across the city two, three times in one day. If you hire a private tour guide, you don’t have to think. They’ll pick you up and take you to the best sightseeing spots, and just by following them around, you’ll be able to take in all the sights.


2. No worries about getting lost

Getting lost in a foreign country is one of the fears people have of going abroad. Even though Japan is one of the most peaceful countries in the world, I know from personal experience that it’s still scary when you get turned around and have no idea how to get home.


The train systems are a maze and if you don’t have any experience navigating them, it’s easy to get lost. And you may notice that the Japanese people are really nice as a whole, but not many of them are fluent in English. So, having your own personal guide to tell you which train to get on, what stop to get off at, or which exit to get out from the station is really a big help. Because frankly, it’s a bit tiring to navigate Tokyo.


3. Local knowledge about everything

Have you ever found yourself going to some place written about in a guide book and finding it not to your taste? It’s difficult to decide if it’s worth seeing a particular sightseeing spot or not. This is where the knowledge of a local tour guide comes in handy. They live and work in Tokyo, so their opinion should be insightful. It’s also a good idea to ask a local person about restaurant choices or where to shop for certain things. I’m sure they’ll have information you can’t read about in guide books.


4. Detailed explanations in English

If you’re going to be visiting a famous sightseeing spot, some people prefer to have a detailed explanation about the history or the cultural aspects in English. Of course, sightseeing spots often have brochures or plaques with a simple explanation in English, but it won’t tell you about what that place means to the local Japanese people. And you won’t be able to ask any questions.


English-speaking tour guides are essential if you are a person who wants to be able to have a really deep understanding of the history and culture of Tokyo.


5. Moving at your own pace

Private tour guides will accommodate groups of all ages. If you have small children or elderly family members with you, you’ll probably want to take it slow, with frequent breaks. And if you have a baby stroller or a person in a wheelchair with you, you’ll find that looking for elevators in train stations is a difficult task, as they tend to be located at the far end.


If you have a guide with you, this task along with others like finding bathrooms or nursing rooms will be easier and not so time-consuming. It’s also a good idea to have the guide schedule your itinerary so that all the sightseeing spots are wheelchair accessible.


A private tour guide in Tokyo, rather than a big bus tour, is also better for people who want to schedule in activities like trying on a kimono or participating in a traditional tea ceremony. Or for ladies who are much more interested in shopping all over Tokyo than sightseeing.





1. It’s expensive

Yes, it is expensive if you compare it to sightseeing on your own, as you have to pay for the guide’s time. It probably costs somewhere in between 150–250 US dollars for a full day tour of Tokyo. If it’s a day trip to somewhere outside Tokyo, it’s even more expensive.


However, if you have only a limited time to see the sights, and you want to be as quick as possible to be able to take in as many places as possible, or you’re a person who gets lost easily, or you don’t have time to research the places you want to see before your trip, it could turn out to be money well spent. And if you’re a group of for example 5 friends, about 50 US dollars per person is not that much. Expensive or not depends on your priorities and your point of view.


2. You don’t know what kind of guide you’ll get

If you meet your guide on the morning of your tour, and you don’t like him or her straight off, that could ruin your whole day. I think whether a guide and the customers hit it off or not depends on luck because you can’t choose your guide. But what if you could? If you could choose male or female, young or old, maybe it would make a big difference.


Talking to someone from your own generation is sometimes easier, as they understand things that people of a different age group wouldn’t. And if you were a young girl traveling on her own, wouldn’t you feel more at ease with a female companion?


Nowadays, guides have introduction videos of themselves where you can see what they look like, how they sound, and you’ll be able to sense what kind of person they are even before you meet them. And you can read the reviews written by previous customers about their experience with that particular guide. This makes the risk of hiring a guide much smaller.


3. No private transportation

Unfortunately, private walking tours mean exactly that, walking. They use the trains and subways to move around the city, so you can’t just sit on a bus or in a car and relax. For active people, I suppose this doesn’t tend to be a problem. For people who are used to their cars and use them to go just about anywhere, walking for 8 hours around Tokyo is a real challenge. But since it’s a private tour, you can just tell your guide in advance that you need to take it really slowly, or if you decide you are tired and need a break during the tour, you can get the guide to change your itinerary right then and there.


There are many reasons to hire a local tour guide in Tokyo and why not to. These reasons will differ from person to person, group to group, and they may or may not include the reasons listed above. So come up with your own pros and cons list to make a decision. With a guide or without, make sure you have an amazing time in Tokyo! If you do decide to go on a tour, down below are some web pages to help you pick a tour and local guide.


Would Like to Get the Most of Your Trip to Tokyo or Japan? Try GoWithGuide for the best private tours and local guides across Japan.


If you are interested to know more and save your time during your trip to Tokyo, you can send a Message to our local guides to get a customized itinerary and quotation for an unforgettable experience.


GoWithGuide website you can find the best professional Local Guides all across Japan to help you plan your trip. Check our Local Guides for Japan and Tokyo

Tokyo Tour Guide - Yasuro C.

Yasuro C.

4.80 / 5
(64 reviews)

Hello, my name is Yasuro (Mr). I was born and brought up in Kansai, graduated from a univ in Kobe city, after moved into Kanto, 30 years in Tokyo, 2.5 years in Nagoya city, 7.5 years abroad (KL & S'pore) as a rep of a construction company and I got the National Guide Certificate in 2011. My hobbies are making Haiku poems, singing various songs (voice-training for 18 years), playing the folk-guitar, trekking in mountains like Takao and Okutama in the West of Tokyo, visiting museums like in Ueno Park and travelling around Japan to make Haiku poems. Thank you for your attention.                                                                                                                                 

Yokohama Tour Guide - Haruo T.

Haruo T.

4.90 / 5
(10 reviews)

I live in Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture. I have a license to teach in high schools and was admitted to the degree of Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language in the University of Birmingham. Until 2015 I had been teaching English at public high schools in Kanagawa for 37 years. During that time, I had some experience of guiding students from overseas through sister-school relationship around Tokyo and Kanagawa. Therefore, I had good command of English with the TOEIC score of 935. As for a tour guide experience I earned the certificate of National Government Licensed Guide-Interpreter in English and since then I have guided tourists to the popular sites around Tokyo, Yokohama, Kamakura and Yokosuka. My guiding focuses on introducing not only Japanese historical and cultural backgrounds but also giving tourists some tips to travel Japan only by themselves, such as how to use trains and subways, find good restaurants, reserve tickets, buy survenier, and speak basic Japanese. In addition, my tour includes opportunities to experience Japanese culture like Zen meditation, ninja performance, visiting anime's location sites based on tourists' request. Besides, by means of my hobbies of writing English Haiku and Waka (traditional Japanese poems) and performing Rakugo (traditional Japanese funny story telling) in English, I can surely entertain tourists during the tour. My moto as a tour guide is let the tourists have a once-in-a-lifetime experience in Japan with my profound, intelligible and interestiog guiding.                                                                                                                                 

Tokyo Tour Guide - Grant A.

Grant A.

5.00 / 5
(14 reviews)

My name is Grant I lived more than 10 years in Japan. I graduated University and translation school in Tokyo. I am fluent in Japanese. I have a degree in Asian studies and have expert-level knowledge of Japanese culture and history. I have memorized the JR rail system across all of Japan, I use the same train timetable calculators as the station staff, and I have experience using bullet train passes that are exclusive to foreign visitors. I can optimally navigate the Tokyo underground and maximize value from a Tokyo metro pass and also understand Tokyo above ground which will allow for seamless transitions between different metro stations and landmarks with minimal backtracking. *There will be a price revision at the end of June* My tour fee is Half-Day Tour: 30,000yen for 1-5hours Full-Day Tour: 50,000yen for 5-12hours The time transiting to and from your hotel for pick up or drop off within Tokyo 23wards does not count towards the time. I am also able to guide historical sites and cities such as Kyoto, Kanazawa, Nikko, and Kamakura on request if you pay my rail fare. If your group is not a tour company and you simply ask me kindly for a 10,000yen discount and I will reduce the price of your tour until the end of June.                                                                                                                                 

Kanagawa Tour Guide - Kaneo U.

Kaneo U.

4.98 / 5
(43 reviews)

I’m so excited to have a chance to show you around my favorite spots in Kanagawa prefecture. I was born in Kanagawa. I spent my whole school life, including university, here in Kanagawa. I worked as a high school English teacher here for 40 years. I love Kanagawa so much. We have many interesting tourist spots, like Hakone, Kamakura, Enoshima and Yokohama. I got my tour guide license in English in 2009. I am still an English teacher. To give an interesting and impressive lesson to young high school students, I’ve learnt and gathered many kinds of information. I also have a license to teach social studies, so I have a wide range of knowledge about Japanese culture and history. I’m sure to provide you an interesting tour.                                                                                                                                 

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